Workers at the Congleton marking station having a much needed break, re the Sigogne race marking: -
The National Flying Club final old bird race of the season took place from Sigogne
The weather for the Grand National this year was against us from the start and we would like to extend our apologies for that but looking to the future we will take on board the many constructive suggestions that have been given. As it transpired the winds in the channel were stronger than expected and coupled with the heat wave we are experiencing it proved too much and it was not going to change over the following days. The cloud cover reported was considered fine for liberation but one thing for sure, we will learn from this and did not release the birds without due diligence or consideration to their welfare. A meeting with all the National and Classic clubs is being held with the RPRA to discuss the way forward, our Chairman will be in attendance to consider the future racing in such conditions.
The Tarbes Grand National for 2018 will be remembered as one of the toughest in recent years but as ever, top performances by class pigeons and fanciers prevailed. To those farther flyers in the club I feel for you because some things are insurmountable for our birds and the combination of the dehydrating effect of the east winds with high temperatures prevented them reaching home in race time. I am in no way condemning the birds, it is just making a point as I know the high quality long distance pigeons are there, it was just that on this occasion everything was against them. When they do return home, they will be given complete rest and recuperation in preparation for yet another chance to shine in one of the greatest races in the UK. It is a difficult yet unpredictable race which is why we love it so much. Birds of the highest calibre can rise to the forefront year after year to make themselves famous in the Racing Pigeon world and reduce their owners to tears after yet another nerve racking seasons build up from the first trainers to the clocking in.
Wearn Bros 1 & Neilson knew that when they timed early in the morning there was every chance of them being beaten further north. They had calculated that if the birds had roosted overnight on the north coast of France, it would be around three hours after sunrise before they got to the south coast. Eric still made the journey to the loft situated at Jimmy’s home very early the next morning and after rounding a few stray calves off a roundabout on his way, he got there around 5am. Jimmy was already up and waiting but at that time it was cold enough to require a fleece sweater and a hat, but after a while it warmed up and sure enough, around three hours after sun rise, they saw their pigeon come. It was verified with the club secretary who gave them the verification number of 3, so Jim thought theirs was the third bird verified and the race would build from there. History shows us that many hours can go by before the Grand National winner is announced and it could be anywhere in the country mostly on the second day.
If ever there was any doubt about the magic of racing with the National Flying Club the Ancenis race flown on the 16th June would sum it all up. Fanciers from all over the country competing against each other with the top of the leader board changing as the birds went further up country. As the race reached its climax it developed into a real nail biter, with the top three open positions all on the same velocity split on decimals and to indicate the fairness of the race, all three were winners of three separate sections with 70 miles between them. What a great race!
Liberation Detailed Report.
Our birds were liberated this morning (16/06/18) at 6:10am from Ancenis in a 10° temperature and a wind that was North Westernly and only 2 to 4 mph. The Convoyer reported clear skies and one large high cloud that prevented an earlier liberation. The birds broke well but we had one small batch that had a mind of its own but cleared the site within 5 minutes of release.
As Race Controller, I ideally wanted to get the birds off and on their way at least 40 minutes early. The reason being that all the data I had collected showed we could beat the weather over to the UK, instead of dodging it. Although we started off in a very light North Wester, the French wind will change to a South Westerly, as we approach the coast, where there may be very light scattered outbreaks on French soil. The fresh channel winds will remain predominately South West for the crossing and mostly shower free. The winds in England are hugely variable with light directions from West to South South West and speeds of 4mph to 22mph. Unfortunately due to the delayed liberation, some members will have birds going around the isolated showers. Those that fly directly through to their lofts, will be the winners today. Best of luck to all our Members.